The role of hope in our lives

June 11, 2021

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” In my opinion, so too, “Teachers are dealers in hope.” Schools should be places of hope for students and how much more so, in a Christian school.

In the 1950’s a John Hopkins professor, Curt Richter, conducted a fascinating, yet gruesome experiment. My apologies in advance for the following description, but it illustrates the impact of hope. In this world-renown experiment, Professor Richter wanted to see how long rats could swim in a bucket before drowning. The first group of 12 only took a short time before each drowned. Professor Richter, then introduced a variable with the next group of rats. Just before a rat began to drown, he would lift the rat out of the bucket, hold it for a while and then put it back in the bucket. He found that those rats, were able to swim over 100 times longer than the first group he tested. He wrote in his findings that the first group ‘literally gave up’ in the hopeless situation, but the second group ‘quickly learnt that the situation was not actually hopeless’. They had a reason to keep swimming.

This reminds me of a nice inspirational story about a group of frogs:

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, when two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them.

However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit.

Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out. “It’s hopeless” they yelled.

Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog however continued to jump up as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs just waved and yelled at him to stop the pain and die.

He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Both these illustrations show the impact that hope and encouragement have. Schools should be a place where children are encouraged to give their best and that there is always hope for the future. When children know that a time of difficulty or hardship is temporary, then they have the resilience to keep going.

What is of blessing however, is that in a Christian School, there is an even greater hope and encouragement that we can share with students. This hope is not found in psychology, nor in nice inspirational stories, rather it is found in the God of hope. “The God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

Notice these truths:

  1. The source of hope is God.
  2. The impact of hope is joy and peace, which is often missing in times of hopelessness and despair.
  3. Hope is gained through trusting in God.
  4. We receive so much hope that it overflows out of us. Other people can see our hope in the midst of difficulty.
  5. This hope comes with power! The Holy Spirit.

If you are looking for hope (joy and peace), then look no further than the God of hope.

Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School